John Edgar Wideman grew up in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, where some of his novels and stories take place. A former Rhodes scholar, his work has been widely praised for its vivid and lyrical language, and his reviews and critical articles have appeared in a number of publications. He served as the senior judge for the Drue Heinz Literature Prize in 1992.
"Rereading these 20 splendid stories was like having a reunion with dear old friends who have done very, very well in life. This is a powerful collection of vivid, varied, and important voices in American fiction. John Edgar Wideman did a wonderful editing job, a job that I for one don’t envy, considering the consistently high quality of material he had to select from. I now have in my hands the short story anthology I intend to use in my writing courses until the cows come home." —Chuck Kinder
“Celebrating 20 years of debuts, 20: The Best of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. . . .is worth celebrating itself.”---Dennis Loy Johnson, Orlando Sentinel
“One of the finest collections of contemporary short fiction around. . . . These stories have that uniqueness of voice which makes them not only excellent examples of the form but also a great pleasure to read.”---City Paper
“... the book unfolds in the fluidity of the genre in its multifaceted representations. ... The major appeal of this book is that the selections are so varied and so wide-ranging in content, structure, and theme.”—Choice, May 2002
The Drue Heinz Literature Prize was established in 1980 to encourage and support the writing and reading of short fiction. Over the past twenty years judges such as Robert Penn Warren, Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks, Alice McDermott, and Frank Conroy have selected the best collections from the hundreds submitted annually by up-and-coming writers.
20 represents the best of the best—one story from each of the prize-winning volumes. Chosen by acclaimed author John Edgar Wideman, the selections cover a broad range of inventive and original characters, settings, and emotions, charting the evolution of the short story over the past two decades. One of the most prestigious awards of its kind, the Drue Heinz Literature Prize has helped launch the careers of a score of previously "undiscovered" writers, many of whom have gone on to great critical success.
Past Winners of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize: David Bosworth, Robley Wilson, Jonathan Penner, Randall Silvis, W. D. Wetherell, Rick DeMarinis, Ellen Hunnicutt, Reginald McKnight, Maya Sonenberg, Rick Hillis, Elizabeth Graver, Jane McCafferty, Stewart O’Nan, Jennifer Cornell, Geoffrey Becker, Edith Pearlman, Katherine Vaz, Barbara Croft, Lucy Honig, Adria Bernardi.